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Sheep Dip Disposal: DETR Licences

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: Under transitional arrangements in the Groundwater Regulations 1998, the Environment Agency is deemed to have given authorisation (where the disposal is substantially the same as an existing activity) for applications made between 1 January 1999 and the coming into force of the substantive provisions of the regulations on 1 April, until such applications are finally disposed of. There were 9,088 deemed authorisations to dispose of sheep dip, 1,087 of which had been determined as authorised by the Agency by 30 November, 90 per cent of which are expected to be determined by 31 March 2000 and the remainder as soon as possible thereafter. Since 1 April there have been a further 128 applications for sheep dip disposal authorisation resulting in an additional 10 authorisations being granted by the end of October.

Long-distance Footpaths: Unauthorised Use of Motor Vehicles

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The nationally recogised long-distance trails in England are made up of footpaths, bridleways, byways open to all traffic, roads used as public paths and unclassified roads (and in some places metalled roads). Over some lengths of these trails there is a right of vehicular access and it is on these routes that there are some examples of damage being caused by motorised use. However, neither the Countryside Agency nor ourselves are aware of significant damage having been caused to long-distance footpaths by unauthorised use of vehicles.

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Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the owner or occupier of private land should continue to be responsible for the collection and disposal of litter or dumped material deposited upon such land without authorisation or permission.[HL337]

Lord Whitty: The Environmental Protection Act 1990 places a duty on certain bodies to keep their land clear of litter and refuse so far as is practicable. However, where the occupier neither made nor knowingly caused or permitted the deposit the Environment Agency or local authority may themselves take steps to remove fly-tipped waste. There are at present no plans to change legislation in this area.

Roadside Speed Cameras

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to make more effective use of roadside speed cameras.[HL457]

Lord Whitty: A number of pilot schemes to test new funding arrangements for speed and traffic light cameras will start on 1 April 2000. This will increase the number of cameras deployed, further deter speed and red light running and thereby achieve the Government's road safety objective. Each pilot scheme will involve local authorities, magistrates' courts, the police and in some cases the Highways Agency and Crown Prosecution Service. The schemes will be based in these eight police areas--Essex, Northampton, Thames Valley, Nottingham, South Wales, Cleveland, Lincolnshire and Strathclyde. In the light of the results of the pilot schemes consideration will be given to the extension of the funding arrangements nationally.

Single Burn Item Test

Lord Howie of Troon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will accept the relevance of smoke generation data available from the single burn item test contained in the harmonised European fire safety system.[HL473]

Lord Whitty: The Government accept that the smoke generation data available from the single burn item test may have a relevance in terms of fire safety but only where it is necessary for showing regulatory compliance in appropriate circumstances such as where fire safety engineering solutions are being considered. Smoke production is an additional declaration within the EU classification system in that it is extra to the normal test measurements such as heat release.

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Toxic Smoke from Ignited Construction Products

Lord Howie of Troon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to introduce regulations to limit the generation of toxic smoke from ignited construction products by including them in Approved Document B of the Building Regulations.[HL474]

Lord Whitty: The Government do not have any intention at present to introduce regulations to limit the generation of toxic smoke from ignited construction products. A review of Approved Document B (fire safety) has just been completed, and the 2000 edition of this document will be published in January. This document makes reference to a number of parts of BS 476 (fire tests on building materials and structures) that are considered to give acceptable methods of tests. The key parameters usually considered in these fire tests are the heat release rate and flame spread but not smoke production. These in themselves will also have an effect on smoke production.

Although there are no proposals at present to introduce smoke production tests as part of the performance standard for regulatory purposes, the use of a fire engineering approach is recognised in Approved Document B and the fact that products have a low smoke emissivity could be used as part of the justification for a particular engineering solution. Further revisions to Approved Document B will be necessary to take account of future harmonised European standards and smoke production will be one of the many issues that will be looked at.

Common Land: Management

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any proposals for the management of rural common land in England and Wales: and, if so, when they will appear.[HL412]

Lord Whitty: In June last year the Department of the Environment published a Good Practice Guide on Managing the Use of Common Land. Copies of this were placed in the Library of the House. We have also announced proposals to give a statutory right of access on foot to registered common land. We are considering whether there should be any further changes to the legislation that affects common land. If so, there will be public consultation on what changes would be desirable.

Single Room Rent Restriction

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What would be the cost of abolishing the single room rent restriction on housing benefit for those

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    under 25 (a) as a gross cost and (b) as a net cost; and how they calculate the difference between the two.[HL401]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): We are unable to estimate with any accuracy the cost of abolishing the single room rent restriction. There is insufficient quantitative information on how this group responded to the change and without this information we cannot estimate the behavioural effects of reversing the change.

Child Support Agency: Administrative Costs

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the administrative costs of the Child Support Agency.[HL402]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mrs Faith Boardman. She will write to the noble Earl.

Letter from the Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency, Mrs Faith Boardman, dated 5 January 2000.

I am replying to your Parliamentary Question to Her Majesty's Government about the administrative costs of the Child Support Agency.

Our cash allocation for 1998-99 was £203 million, increased mid year by £12 million for customer service initiatives.

Full details are given in the Agency's published accounts. A copy of the 1998-99 accounts was placed in the library of the House of Commons on 14 July 1999.

For 1999-2000 the Agency is required to live within its allocation of £218.645 million. Given rising workloads this is a considerable challenge to further improve the 52 per cent efficiency gains already achieved since 1995-96.

The Agency continually seeks to improve service to the public and live with the resources allocated as well as delivering a service that is cost effective and efficient for the taxpayer.

I hope this is helpful.

Social Security Benefit: 16 to 17 year-olds

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What would be the cost of restoring full entitlement to social security benefits to 16 to 17 year -olds (a) at the present rates for those under 18 and (b) at full adult rates.[HL400]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: We believe that every young person should have the opportunity to achieve their potential. That is why our aim is to engage 16 to 17 year-olds in education, training or work with

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training, rather than starting their adult lives dependent on the benefits system.

Departments are working together to develop and implement the proposals in the Government White Paper Learning to Succeed and the Social Exclusion Unit's report Bridging the Gap which are aimed at supporting young people in making a successful transition from childhood to adult life.

The estimated annual cost of restoring full entitlement to social security benefits to 16 to 17 year-olds would be £100 million at present rates and £250 million at full adult rates. These costs do not make any allowance for possible changes in labour market behaviour as a result of these changes. Notes: 1. Figures are rounded to the nearest £50 million. 2. Figures are based on data taken from the 1997-98 Family Resources Survey. 3. Answer assumes that full adult rate refers to the rate for single people aged 25 and over.

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